It's generally for profit. In Havana, old American cars* (maquinas) run along established routes, with fixed fares. You can travel the city for 50 cents to a dollar, roughly.
Between cities, it's easy to find drivers who will take passengers, and hitchhiking (for money) is a very common and fluid system.
It's well in advance of our carpooling system in many ways, and all without smartphones.
I don't think it would work without smartphones here, but there's space in the market for an Airbnb of ridesharing. The underlying idea is monetization of spare private capacity.
Edit: I should add that the system is very, very safe. But Cuba is also very, very safe, so it's hard to draw conclusions.
*The American cars have replacement motors. Soviet and eastern european generally don't act as public taxis. Likely due to space, the America cars can fit 6-8 passengers.
for what it's worth the ride sharing apps, while interesting, don't seem ready to take the place of hitching in my mind. hitching serves a [casual||down market] segment that smart phone apps aren't ready to conquer (yet?).
In the early 90's in Homer, Alaska, this was just normal behavior.
> but there is a lot of "color" out there
Also true for Homer. However, at no time did I ever feel unsafe. (From picking up hitchhikers.)
I agree, these apps aren't ready to take off in many places yet. It's a matter of time for the requisite infrastructure to be in place (smartphone penetration, cheap ubiquitous data, and more societal comfort around collaborative consumption)
The old guys wanting to get it on with you is a pretty funny coincidence. I've had a lot of ultra-left hippie types that live what you can describe as a nomadic lifestyle. "Color" is definitely the best way to put it. Inspiring though!
It seems kind of shallow, but I don't give nearly as many hitchhikers rides today.
During that time, I knew quite a few people who hitch-hiked long distances. Every single one of them had experiences where they thought they were going to die or sensed they were is serious danger. Don't get me wrong, 90% of the experience is positive and interesting, but that 1 / 10 ride you get will scare you straight.
The numbers may suggest that hitch hiking is safe, but the numbers don't, and cannot, tell the stories of those that had good reason to be traumatized by a bad experience. As an experiment, try hitch hiking across one entire state. I would gladly offer my $10 to your $7 that you wouldn't want to do it again.
EDIT to add: I hitch hiked in Florida.
It's a commonly-repeated myth that hitching is illegal in the U.S. Most states simply have laws making it illegal to stand on the "travelled portion of a public way", which is a stupid way to hitch anyway. See http://hitchwiki.org/en/United_States_of_America for details.
See http://hitchwiki.org for tips if you want to get in on the fun.
Your comment has been ruined by the first paragraph.
"in 1974 that hitchhiking was a factor in 0.63 percent of crimes [in California]"
and brushes this off like it was nothing. This seems like a disturbingly high percentage to me (although we don't know what percentage of people hitchhiked).
If you consider that good risk management often involves avoiding 1 in a thousand chances, sometimes 1 in a million (depending on the cost if it occurs) it seems to me like hitchhiking should still be something you regard as having higher-than-average risks.
gas station? truck parking?
Truck parking might work if you're looking to get to the opposite coast, but a trucker isn't exactly going to be super amicable about dropping you off in the middle of the metro center of the next city over. He's got a schedule to keep.
When I get rides I realize how compassionate humans are. I have hitched all over the world in cars, motorcycles and a pump trolly (train), my mother even hitched on a turboprop plane once.
I met this guy Rock Eagle who free soloed the Eiffel Tower, an 80yo driving 90mph over a mountain pass to visit his girlfriend, a young woman hitchhiking North and South America alone (and doing just fine), a drunk gangster who told me he wouldn't kill me and parents who gave me the keys to their house and car while they went on vacation.
Big cities are hard, but you take public transportation to the end of a line or bus route and start there.
There are risks associated with any activity, but the most dangerous one is sitting on your ass watching the world through a screen.
Your thumb has been and always will be the most sustainable, renewable, friendly, loving, compassionate, eye-opening form of transportation on this planet.
Canada was the best. I got a ride from a native american who smuggled me aboard the ferry he worked on, so I could cross to Prince Edwards Island for free. I got a ride from an older couple and their grandson in a camper, who invited me to stay with them at a campsite (and gave me my first taste of Moosehead lager). And in Newfoundland, apart from plenty of good car rides, interesting conversations, (and being invited for Moose meat dinner, and even overnight stays) I got a 'ride' from one coastal village to the next, from a couple on a tiny boat, that were motoring around Newfoundland.
In France and the Netherlands I did some hitch-hiking as well, both for practical reasons (when there was no bus), and for fun. Was a bit harder there, but on overall it was great. Australia was ok too, though it could be a while before one got a ride...
What I especially liked about it is the enormous diversity of people that one meets, and the life-stories they can tell. From a factory worker on his way home from the night-shift, metal-heads in a minivan heading for a French rock concert, and people racing across states to visit an ill relative, to doctors on holiday in their BMW, and land-lords making their round in a cabrio sports-car.
Thumbs up to hitch-hiking!
A company that graduated the FounderFuel accelerator with us, called "Live Rides" (http://liverides.com) has built an awesome app for Canadians to find/offer rides by adding safety through a social layer. If you're Canadian, check it out and give "hitchhiking" a try, it's really a blast no matter what side you're on.
Full disclosure, a woman was raped and murdered while hitchhiking, only a few km from a town I was staying, while I was there. But I was out hitching the next day, and still had no trouble. I don't know what moral to draw from that.
Still, if hitching comes back to the States, I'll be nothing but pleased.
The same moral you get from living in a region (city, state, country, etc.) where serious crimes happen: Unlikely things occur.
The same reasoning that says the dice (2d6) can come up twelve even though there's only one way for that to happen says you can be killed hitchhiking, or picking up hitchhikers.
one of the guys i gave a lift to suggested that as a man to never pick up a woman hitchhiker. it's too easy for her to claim that you tried to assault her and get your day ruined until it all gets sorted out. (curious if this is true.) he also helped me to learn some techniques to get out of giving someone a ride who, once you pull over, is actually all kinds of messed up.
haven't driven significant distances alone in eons, so i haven't run into this in a long time. interesting piece to appear in the NYT however.
Turns out they are 'Jockeys' that people pay to pick up so they can drive on the major downtown roads that have a 3-person min for each car. It's essentially hitch hiking to go no where.
Even if crime was a factor in 100% of hitchhiking incidents, this statistic could still be true. So the authors claim that it's "hardly Russian roulette", based on this, is meaningless.
Given the enormity of crime, just because reducing hitchhiking wouldn't reduce crime doesn't mean hitchhiking is not dangerous.